Once Upon A Midnight Dreary


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Also featuring:

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Scene Title Once Upon A Midnight Dreary
Synopsis Mack, Felix and Deckard encounter one another in the ruins, while Sylar and Munin rediscover an innate risk of spying: getting caught.
Date November 18, 2008

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

To walk the ruins of Midtown in the daytime is to truly experience the destruction wrought by the Bomb. It affords a clear view of the desecrated city. The permeating sense of radiant death that lingers even years later contrasted sharply by the former heartbeat and pulse of one the mightiest cities on earth. To walk the ruins of Midtown in the daytime is to truly understand that there is nothing that can not die.

To walk the ruins of Midtown at night is a different experience altogether. The darkness clings to this part of the city as if a jealous lover, and shadows crawl over its twisted landscape. The full depth and scope of the ruin are invisible, replaced instead with a lingering sensation that one is being watched, the small hairs on the back of one's neck refusing to lie down. As if something lingers just out of sight, and if you turn your head fast enough you might see…

Mack doesn't penetrate too far into the ruins, usually. Instead he moves past the very outer fringes where some still try to defy despair and rebuild. He gets just far enough to stand in the silence, normally. Tonight is one of those nights, leaving the more inner depths for whatever poor souls still eek out some existence there- if any, nearer the crater. He's walked in, leaving his car back with the desperate do their defying, and he's just sitting on a ruined sidewalk. In his hand is a picture that flutters in the breezes that blow through, kicking up dust or blowing a piece of destroyed paper down an otherwise deserted street. And he sits.

Felix is not old. Not really. But tonight, he's moving like a man twice his age - still hurting from his little run-in with Peter. Business, however, does not wait on anyone, and illegit business less so. So Fel's been on another of those little stakeouts, though not from a rooftop this time, t racking the movements of a certain cadre of criminals who operate out of the waste. Done, he's creeping out towards civilisation, limping badly but disdaining a crutch - he's in that fake-homeless garb of worn jacket, threadbare jeans, torn gloves. His face is bruised and stitched on one side, and he's not wearing his glasses. Coming out of an alley, he spots Mack and frowns, as if waiting for recognition to dawn. "McNamara?" he says, tentatively.

Someone is watching.

Where Felix has declined to take up a bird's eye view, someone or something definitely has. Some distance above and behind Mr. Mack, twin points of blue are focused sharp and alert over a mote of muted orange. Regardless of however many stories tall the building he's taken up a post on was originally, now it's only one and a half. A caved in section of wall supported by a twisted girder serves as a makeshift platform for Deckard to lounge on under the open sky. Shotgun in hand, he's still, quiet, and vigilent. To what end, there's no telling. Maybe he's just bored.

When Felix approaches Mack the cop seems to be mouthing something quietly; lyrics, maybe? Either way, its not really loud enough to carry. Just enough that he isn't, perhaps, quite as attentive to his surroundings as he should be. Given his surroundings, anyway. When Felix speaks, and its his own name, that certainly brings him out of it. Initially his hand goes immediately for his service weapon safely in its holster. As soon as he realizes who it was that was speaking, however, he stops the motion. He hurriedly stands and brushes a sleeve of his jacket across his left eye, complaining about the 'fucking dust' beneath his breath before finally getting around to responding to the federal agent. "Felix? What in the hell are /you/ doing out here?"

Felix lifts his hands in that ancient gesture of peaceful intent. "No getting jumpy, Mack," he says, grinning broadly. "Hunting bad guys, same as I ever did," His voice is low. "You were out of it - what're you doing out here at this hour?" His gaze swings up and down the street, keeping an eye out reflexively, but he seems cheerful enough, despite his apparent wounds.

Mack just wiped his eye off with his sleeve. Now he scrubs his face with his right palm before giving the city around them a once-over in the same reflexive nature as Felix's glance. "Remembering." Giving the oft-folded picture in his hand one last look he stuffs it into a pocket in his jacket. Then he gestures to Felix, "You look like you went ten rounds with Chuck Liddel; back when he could still fight. You get into it out here?" He takes a gander down the way Felix came from, though the street is likely as empty as it was a moment ago.

"I met Peter Petrelli himself," And by Fel's tone, it's almost a boast. "If you can believe it. Picked me up and smashed me into a wall." He grunts in understanding at the comment about memory, but doesn't press the issue. "But he let me live, and here I am,"

Deckard has already heard the Peter Petrelli story. Let's talk about something else. The unnatural light of his eyes flickers aside, fleeting over the building that lies in shambles all around him. Once a suitably sized chunk of blackened brick is located, he swaps the shotgun carefully into his left hand, collects the golfballish piece, and whips it down at the street below and several feet ahead. At Felix's back.

The wind blows things around, true. But when those things come into the shape of golf ball sized brick fragments, one can naturally assume that wasn't wind or nature. It doesn't take long for Mack to pull out his Beretta and train it on the general tortured cityscape behind Felix; though that doesn't narrow down the risk area all that much. He also gets up close to a ruined wall nearby.

Fel may have reflexes that'd've put a gunslinger's to shame, but even he can be taken unawares. And so he is, though he immediately whirls, gun out, to face whomever it was who attacked him, having sought cover. "Someone's playing a joke or asking for attention," he observes. The Sig in his hand is blued - there's no glint of moonlight to betray it.

A pair of dark sunglasses flicked free from the high flip of his overcoat collar mask out the tell-tale blue glow of Deckard's eyes from on high. He's on a rooftop that wasn't actually the top of the building until the rest of it collapsed post bomb, some twenty or twenty-five feet up off a short stretch of clear street. He has a shotgun. Also, a smirk on his face. …He'll probably stop thinking it's funny if Starsky and Hutch start shooting.

"Yeah, well, call it mission fuckin' successful." Neither cops nor firefighters are particularly well known for their clean language, and being a hybrid of both, Mack isn't breaking any molds in that department. Some might think he looks silly as he picks his way down the street towards one of a few buildings that might be likely culprits, but he'd rather look silly and give a potential threat less of a target than trust that he'll just get better anyway. Besides, throwing bricks at people in Midtown… thats just bad form.

Fel grunts. And…foolishly, steps right back out into the open, though he hasn't holstered his gun. That rock obviously wasn't intended to kill or seriously hurt. If it's kids, well, they'll just have run. "Idiots," he mutters, though who he's addressing isn't clear.

Nearby, perched atop a twisted column of metal that was once a lamppost, sits a large black bird with glossy feathers that reflect the distant glow of Manhattan's city lights. Silent until now, it lets out a low croak when the Fed steps out in the open and then spreads its wings, launching itself into the air with a few powerful, thrusting beats.

Beep boop boop boop beep. From somewhere atop that desolate building, there is a suspicious muffle accompanied by the faintest drift of cigarette smoke on the wind. Deckard dials his cell phone, sniffs, and holds it to his ear with a wary eye turned down on Mack's approach down below.

There's eyes everywhere. A building nearby, a rooftop, it wouldn't be the second set of eyes watching what goes on on the ground. One set can see through walls, one set can see long distances. Sylar glances towards the bird that beats its wings, yet another sound to pay attention to as he listens keenly, hidden only against shadows, back against concrete. As if the shadows weren't enough, his form's colour melts into the grey he's surrounded by. For now, he remains where he's perched.

The muffled sound from the building comes before that of the raven; an oddity that otherwise might require some attention. But given the current set of circumstances Mack only has the first sound to react to before he moves. Once he has a clearer idea of where that rock came from he plants his foot on a turned over planter and launches himself forward, suddenly rushing forward until he can find some semblance of cover in the building beneath Deckard, always leading with that ole faithful Beretta.

A raven. "Oh, shit," Felix says, bluntly. "Mack," he says, slipping back into the shadows where the other cop is lurking. "I gotta bad feeling about this. We got at least two Evolved out there who can control birds…" Before he can explain further, Mack is dashing off, leaving Fel to follow at what speed he can muster, since it'd be easier to deal with a murderous flock somewhere a bit less open than the street….and his cellphone goes off, vibrating silently against his hip. He snatches it up and mutters, "Ivanov here," in something close to a whisper.

There's a static crackle across Felix's line — reception here, really not that great as it turns out — and then a hoarsely whispered, "…I'm in the house." Even so limited, Flint's voice is kind of distinct, and the chuckle that follows even moreso. The fact that Mack's running around downstairs in his hidey hole with a Beretta is enough to cut him off a little short, though. Phone held away from his ear, he pushes to his feet to better watch them through what passes as a floor. And a roof. "Fuck."

"Mack, Mack, hold your horses. Got us a joker, but nothing more," Felix says, running to catch up to his oh so eager colleague. "Jesus, Deck, not so smart. I coulda fucking shot you. Where in the house are you?" he wonders, phone pinned to his ear with a shoulder, on his good side, at least.

Mack had pretty much come to a stop anyway. Well, he had taken cover and was clearly assessing the best way to make it to the second floor and find the brick-thrower. But he wasn't moving. Shaking his head at Felix's pronouncement he eases off the wall. He still stands close to it, however. And he doesn't put his gun away. "Crazy fuckers. What were you saying about Evolved a second ago?"

The raven wheels around, completing several lazy circles above the street before it adopts a new perch on the edge of the rooftop opposite Deckard. As it settles, its dark plumage rustles in the evening breeze, making it appear bigger and more menacing than it really is. One glittering eye turns toward him, and the bird's beak parts open, though no sound comes out. Instead, it drags its clawed feet across the bricks, shifting its weight from one side to the other in an apparent attempt to get comfortable.

"Know your target. Isn't that one of the rules when it comes to pointing guns at people?" Deckard snipes across the line, phone lifted back to his temple when the pair of them start flapping their jaws at each other beneath the bones in his own feet. The cell is shifted over onto his shoulder while he watches them so that he can shift the weight of his own gun from one hand to the other, and…there is a bird. A big one. The flutter of feathers prompts his attention upward. He even goes so far as to tip the line of his sunglasses down long enough to get a legitimate look at the thing before he starts going back about his business. "Once upon a midnight dreary. I'm on the roof, ass weasel."

The wraith-like figure pressed against the wall on the building a little ways away shifts, and Sylar lets normal colour pool back over his form. A broke-down fire escape shudders as he walks down it at a casual pace, still some distance away from the scene, and, keeping to the edges of streets and corners, he makes his way towards the house that's been used as cover. He's listening - the sounds of at least three people, curious, but there's really only one voice he's interested in listening in on.

"I take it you see that raven. It's basically a bug. If you can, shoot it," Fel says, quietly. And then he clicks off, and explains to Mack, "Peter Petrelli and at least one other Evolved control birds. I don't know if they can use their senses to spy, but better safe than sorry," He leads the way up the stairs, pistol still in hand, coming up in to the dim glow - even decimate as it is, New York is never truly dark at night.

Which is good, given Mack's eyes. Even here he's wearing his sunglasses; though these ones aren't actually dark but more of a reflective looking purple. Mack picks his way up towards the roof behind Felix, Beretta in hand, but he's not quite ready to go shooting random birds. Yet. "You thinking he sent his little avian friend after you after he sent you on your merry way?" Then he calls up towards this unknown figure that throws bricks at people at night. "'If I point my gun at it, its a target', 's pretty much my rule when it comes to firearms."

Click. Felix hung up, and so does Flint. The phone is dropped down into his overcoat pocket, he swings the shotgun up to his shoulder, and…yeah. The blast's harsh echo ricochets violently off the surrounding concrete carnage. Unless it's the fastest raven in the west, blood and feathers probably poof out in a predictably horrible little cloud of death and gore. "As I pondered, weak and weary…. —Hope I never run into you in a dark alley. Asshole." The last is called down to Mack.

It comes out of nowhere. First, Sylar hears the trigger squeezed. That's fine. Then, the gunshot, loud enough to make him wince - but the pain of the sound isn't anything like the sudden pain in his chest. Though the bullet rips through the poor, unsuspecting bird and likely lodges uselessly into a wall in the distance, Sylar's shoulder suddenly hits the outside wall of the building he was walking along, body jerking as if it was he who'd been shot and a rough, then quickly muffled cry breaking the immediate silence. No wound, however, and the sensation disappears as quickly as it comes - but it sends the killer diving into an alleyway rather than towards the house, perhaps giving up on this excursion before it can begin.

The sound of the shotgun blast reverberates through the night. The bird itself, apart from the initial POP!, makes no noise when its body explodes outwards, leaving a dark smear on the ledge where it was sitting just a few moments ago. There's a dull thump when what's left of the carcass hits the street below, followed by a crash in an adjacent building — glass shatters, and a low, wailing keen rises up from the rubble.

Sylar isn't the only one in the immediate vicinity who experiences that kind of pain.

"Fuck, one of 'em's here," Felix voice is a snarl. He runs to the edge of the roof, trying to spot motion beneath them. "I thought they had greater range. Well done," he adds to Deckard.

Mack can't help but blink a little as Deckard takes out the little birdie. But he doesn't say anything, given Felix's response. No, he just keeps that Beretta handy and finds a comfortable place to sit that also affords a decent view of the street below. To Deckard he replies, "Yeah, thats probably the smart way to go, anyway." He takes the moment to pop his clip out of the bottom of the handle of the Beretta and check the little holes on the back of it; yup, none of his ammo ran away when he wasn't looking. He slides the clip back into the gun and pulls back on the slide, loading a bullet into the chamber.

And, you know, after checking his piece, Mack pulls out a cell phone of his own and taps out a text message.

"Thanks." The empty shell is pumped out while Flint picks his way over for the smear the bird left behind on the flat edge of its perch. He does not lean over the edge, but things are looking a little crumbly around this particular patch of floor and he's not that keen on pushing it. Sunglasses and all, the look he gives Mack is irritatingly passive for his reply. Fortunately for the size of his head and its ability to fit through things like doorways, he is unaware that he has just indirectly managed to make Sylar think twice about something. "What's that sound?"

"There's at least two Evolved in New York who can control birds," Felix explains, eyes narrowed as he peers down. Nevermind that he's still suffering from his last fall off a half-ruined building. "And it seems that killing the bird they're linked into does some real damage." Which is when he heads for the fire escape, and starts pattering down it.

Mack looks over as Deckard wanders over to the bloody smear that was Poe and Felix starts ambling down a fire escape. "Ah, Christ, now where are you going?" He gets up, though, and follows after Felix. He waits at the top of the fire escape until the agent gets all the way down, both in an effort to not bring the ruined staircase down in a heap of twisted metal, and to swing his pistol out over the deserted street beneath and offer cover from.. what? A flock of angry birds, apparently. Hitchcock would be proud.

"You said it was like a bug." Not quite accusing, Deckard gets close enough in the furrow of his brow and the change in his tone. He doesn't move to follow, though. Potentially scary people making keening noises. He'll stay here and guard the roof.

Leaning against a wall within the alleyway he's ducked into, Sylar presses a hand against his chest again, as if disbelieving there's no blood, no nothing. But it's the sound of footsteps that get his attention - not coming towards him. But he has a good idea as to where they're going. For a moment, he's caught in indecision - if they knew he was there enough to attack him, because what else could that sudden burst of pain possibly be, right, then why are they headed for Munin? Such mysteries! And she'll have to tell him all about it later because he opts for the selfish thing, disappearing further into the broken city.

"It is," Felix says, innocently, and then begins to cast around. He's got a little flashlight in a pocket, which he breaks out, holding high up as he peers into the broken buildings across from their rooftop.

Mack makes his way down the rickety fire escape once Felix hits ground. Once on the ground he reaches into his pocket and quickly taps out another text message before putting his phone away and moving off to close in on that wailing from a slightly different direction.

Skeptical, Flint frowns to himself as he pushes his arm through the gun's strap so he can sling it up over his back. Only once both of the other guys are down does he move for that side of the building, footfalls crunching through a patch of broken glass as he goes. No flashlight necessary.

The wail tapers off into a faint whimper punctuated by murmured pants as, somewhere in the ruins, someone's lungs gasp hard for air. Felix's sweep of the windows yields nothing except for more shadows created by the glow of his flashlight glinting off pieces of broken glass. Eventually, the sound dies down entirely, and a pregnant sort of silence settles over the block.

Maybe the dead of night isn't the best time to go exploring.

Felix and Mack collapse, slowly, on the building that previously contained whatever it was that was wailing that way. A cursory search of the building turns up nothing, however, as well with the surrounding area. It's so empty, in fact, that there aren't even any junkies or Deckards around when the two cops decide to give up, and so they head back to civilization alone.

November 18th: Doubt

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 18th: Accommodating
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